Humanitarian Aid Needed for Iraqi Women

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is asking international donors for $5 million to address the specific needs of women in Iraq for the next six months, the BBC reports. Dr. Thoraya Obaid, head of the UNFPA, has voiced concerns that women’s needs are frequently overlooked when providing relief. Women in Iraq give birth to two thousand babies daily, and pregnancy and birth complications are the leading causes of death for women and girls who are displaced in times of military conflict, according to the UNFPA. Some 150,000 expecting Iraqi women will be displaced or affected negatively by the current war, and over 20,000 women will need urgent assistance with high-risk pregnancies, such as the case of delivering caesareans, BBC reports. Stress derived from military conflict increases the number of miscarriages, and Iraqi women need treatment to avoid later infertility or fatal infections.

The war is already taking a drastic toll on the lives of Iraqi women. On Monday, American troops killed seven women and children in a checkpoint in Najaf, stating that the driver of the vehicle failed to stop after warning shots were fired, the Boston Globe reports. However, a reporter from the Washington Post who was embedded with the unit stated that the commander in charge of the troops criticized his soldiers for not firing a warning shot early enough. Yesterday, US missiles hit a Red Crescent maternity hospital in Baghdad as well as other civilian buildings, killing several people. The Red Crescent told Reutersthat 10 patients and staff were wounded, but that most of the pregnant women had been moved to other hospitals.

LEARN MORE Click here to read women’s narratives about barriers or successes in accessing reproductive health and family planning services.


BBC 3/29/03;Reuters 4/02/03; Boston Globe 4/01/03

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